Hartnett Suffers Byrne-ing Love
If you've not watched "Wicker Park" and you find yourself here looking for more info don't read my review, in fact don't read any movie review or watch a trailer as not knowing anything is the best way to watch it. But if you must read well first thing you should know is that "Wicker Park" is a love story, a far fetched love story with elements of serendipity about it, but it is also a clever love story. It is clever because this is a movie which starts near the end but then as the storyline progresses the truth, relationships, connections and so much more is revealed till we fully understand what a tangled web of relationships is going on. You also need to know that "Wicker Park" is the Hollywood version of "L'Appartement" a French movie and whilst I've never seen the original I would hazard a guess to say that it is probably as good if not better than the American version.
Having returned to Chicago after 2 years in New York, Matthew (Josh Hartnett - 40 Days and 40 Nights) not only has a good job but is about to marry Rebecca (Jessica Paré), his bosses sister. But a few hours before he is due to fly to China on business he thinks he sees his ex Lisa (Diane Kruger - National Treasure: Book of Secrets), his one true love, leave a restaurant. With their relationship having ended abruptly 2 years earlier Matthew puts off going to China in order to try and find her and thinks he's managed it when one thing leads to another to an apartment belonging to Lisa, but is it his Lisa and is he going to find out why their relationship ended so abruptly?
Now as already pointed out "Wicker Park" actually starts nearer the end with Matthew back in Chicago after a 2 year absence and on the verge of marrying his boss's sister, that is until he thinks he sees his ex and the woman he truly loved leave a restaurant. What initially follows are Matthew's attempts to track her down and in doing so we learn all about their relationship, how they met, the falling in love and then how 2 years ago it all went wrong when she just left him without any notice. It's entertaining, not that special, but with some nice layering effects used in the editing process it does keep you interested.
But that is in fact only the first part of "Wicker Park" which culminates with Matthew waiting in the room of Lisa believing that it is his Lisa, when in fact it isn't. Now I am not going to go into much more detail because the second half of the movie is basically a puzzle where we learn more of what happened in the past, what connections there are between various people and how at times Matthew and Lisa nearly meet. The outcome of which not only borders on the fairytale romantic but is also seriously far fetched, you really need to just go with the flow and ignore how contrived it all becomes. But it is easy to do because as all the pieces fall in to place it does deliver those "aha" moments of revelation which then make sense of something else.
Enough about what happens because as already mentioned the less you know about the storyline the better "Wicker Park" is. What is for certain is that director Paul McGuigan has strived to deliver a movie of romantic moments. The whole meet cute between Matthew and Lisa is the stuff of dreams and so are the various scenes which take place at their meeting place which happens to be covered in snow. Basically McGuigan has created a very visual, at times fake world but it works in harmony with the far fetched elements of the story.
In many ways you could say the weakness in "Wicker Park" is the acting as there is nothing memorable about the performances from Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Matthew Lillard and Diane Kruger. But at the same time we have a collection of good looking young stars who are perfectly suited for this romantic drama. And ironically whilst at times the acting feels heavy handed it almost fits with the far fetched story.
What this all boils down to is that "Wicker Park" is a pleasant surprise and watching it with little knowledge is the best way to go about it as otherwise the surprise of it all will be lost. It is far fetched, you do need to go with the flow but it is so well put together that being far fetched never is an issue.